September 2012, VOLUME 130 / ISSUE 3
Every Year Is an Influenza Pandemic for Children: Can We Stop Them?
Paul V. Effler
Pediatrics 2012; 130:554-556
The annual attack rate for influenza in children is high, the highest of any age group. It is estimated that 10% to 40% of children are infected with influenza each winter, a figure similar to the attack rate reported for children during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.1–4
Children with underlying medical conditions bear a disproportionate burden of influenza-related morbidity and mortality.5–7 Two studies in this issue of Pediatrics add to the compelling body of evidence that children with neurologic conditions are at particularly high risk of complications resulting from influenza infection. In the first, Tran and colleagues report that children with underlying neurologic conditions in Canada had an increased risk of ICU admission after either seasonal or pandemic influenza A infection.8 In the second, Blanton et al report that neurologic disorders were identified in nearly half of all pediatric deaths associated with 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza in the United States.9
An equally important observation from these studies, however, is the significant morbidity associated with influenza infection among children without known risk factors. Half of all hospitalizations from seasonal influenza A during 2004–2009 and almost a third of all deaths during the 2009–2010 pandemic occurred in children …